Illinois State Senator James T. Meeks (D) wants as many as 42,000 students in Chicago’s worst public schools to have vouchers. “I’m banking on the difficulty Democrats will have telling these parents, ‘No, you’re not going to have choice. Your kids are locked into these failing schools,'” Sen. Meeks told the Wall Street Journal…and when he says failing, he means it.

Out of 100 Chicago public-school students, eight graduate from four-year colleges. “If the American Dream includes sending your kids to college,” asks Sen. Meeks, “what is Chicago saying to these parents?”

Illinois Policy Institute Education Director Collin Hitt notes, “There is an irony that the highest-profile push for vouchers in America today is in Illinois, while the highest-profile opposition to vouchers is also from Illinois,” namely President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Sen. Richard Durbin.

Cato Institute Executive Director David Boaz noted another irony last year after the Obama administration helped kill the DC Opportunity Scholarship program.  “Duncan says that he wants to ‘help all those kids . . . by . . . coming back with dramatically better schools.’ But he ran the Chicago schools for seven years, and he was not able to make a single school good enough for Barack and Michelle Obama to send their own children there.”

 Sen. Meeks, the Journal explains, is not only a political leader, chairing the Illinois General Assembly’s education committee and the Black Caucus; he is a distinguished spiritual leader to whom President Obama has turned for counsel. For the sake of low-income students in Washington, DC, hopefully the President will turn to Sen. Meeks again.